A great many people – including DNR officials and fish biologists, Mike Kahr of Death’s Door Marine, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Washington Island Ferry Line – have worked together this spring to ensure that the water at both the state dock and the town dock in Jackson Harbor and at the docking area at Rock Island State Park is deep enough for safe boating.
Without everyone’s cooperation and assistance, regular and safe passage to RISP would have been in jeopardy this summer because of the record-breaking low water level of Lake Michigan.
The usual cutoff date for dredging is March 15, because of the need to protect fish that are spawning. This year, however, the long-lasting and severe winter made dredging in February and March impossible. Because of the late arrival of warmer weather and the necessity for dredging in so many marinas and harbors in our area of Lake Michigan, a backlog of projects developed quickly.
Officials at the Department of Natural Resources realized that this year an exception had to be made, and they extended the time allowed for dredging until May 1.
To meet the May 1 deadline, the Coast Guard first had to break up the remaining ice so Mike Kahr could get his equipment into Jackson Harbor to begin dredging.
Kahr then worked in two areas of Jackson Harbor: the state dock and channel from where the Karfi ferry sets out for Rock Island, and the town dock where he deepened and steepened the launch ramp. Kahr also cleared out rocks where the Karfi docks at RISP, which will also better serve owners of private sailboats who dock their boats there.
Randy Holm, ranger at RISP, said, “the late spring and unprecedented low lake level really caused problems this year. Mike Kahr has done a slam-bang job in the short time he’s had.”
The dredging projects were co-funded by the DNR and the Washington Island Ferry Line, and the cost for all of the work totaled less than $50,000. The Karfi will now be able to travel between the state dock and Rock Island on its usual route, and boats will again be able to pull into the town dock at Jackson Harbor and at Rock Island.
By Mary Marik
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